We received a recent comment that sums up one of the main issues with Etsy:
Wow, I just opened my Etsy shop a couple of days ago and am very new to Etsy - I never would have heard of it if Joy Behar hadn't talked about it on The View. I thought Etsy was a great thing and appeared to be on the artisan's side. Now I found this site and I'm concerned now. So much I didn't know about Etsy - it seems as if the Etsy admin team really doesn't care much about us. Does anyone know if Etsy has responded to the concerns of the sellers and to blogs like this? What do they have to say for themselves?
I'm sad now because I was hoping to make a living at this....
1. Etsy's original marketing plan was grassroots advertising, then it moved on to celebrity endorsements - Rosie O'Donnell, Martha Stewart, and the women on The View. The problem...that always seems to bring in sellers, not so much buyers. Because the people who watch those shows/people are stay-at-home or work-at-home people.
2. "You can make a living doing what you love!" More untrue words have never been spoken when it refers to setting up shop on Etsy. First, there is a hell of a lot more that goes into a successful business than just opening a shopfront on the site. Second, look at the downfall of the successful on Etsy - more orders than they can handle, no time for a life or a vacation, and they don't make all that much money overall (Martha Stewart unprofessionally repeated what Rokali should never have mentioned publicly in the first place that a top seller made 6 figures a few years ago when Etsy was small enough for sellers to be successful - but that was before expenses, fees, and taxes - take home $ for 100,000 in sales is likely only about 50k) . Sure, the overhead is cheaper than a brick and mortar shop, but Etsy is still expensive compared to the new competitors that have hit the interwebs (can you say free listing?).
3. The most successful shops on Etsy aren't only on Etsy - they tend to have their own websites, their own customer base, and they do more than online sales. They have local groups and shows they participate in - and they advertise - either via a niche product or with a lot of legwork and writing.
To answer your questions Lizzy (the commenter), the admin have responded and it has been a resounding "fuck you, we'll do what we want". In the end, it's their site, and they're mostly right. They can do whatever the hell they want, but that's that problem. Because if your shop looks at them the wrong way, you're fucked. CEO Rob sat down to talk to us earlier this year and he expressed concern and understanding, but it doesn't appear to have spread. The site currently has god-knows-how-many employees (we've tracked about a hundred that are likely still there) but no customer service relay. Of course they don't care - they're a big company now with tons and tons of money (all from glazy-eyed sellers with no business sense who are willing to spend $500 a month for a single sale of a $15 trinket), despite all of the reassurances that they do care, they really really don't. Not even about their own rules!
Etsy is a great place to shop, not so much to set up shop unless you're simply looking to have your items online. The site isn't the solution to being your own business, in fact they'll likely thwart your attempts at some point. Part of it is their fault for selling the unrealistic dream, and the other part of it is the fault of all who buy into it without any sense of what making a living from it really means.